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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 01 May 2012

Tonya Dickens pictured here in 2009 with children who attended the BSK summer activities program

The gang outreach nonprofit Brothers and Sisters Keepers is no longer contracted with the City of Portland. The city and the nonprofit say they have ended the contract, "by mutual agreement."

But a letter and documentation obtained by The Skanner News reveals the nonprofit's use of city funds is at issue.
City Auditor James Van Dyke wrote April 17 to Tonya Dickens, BSK's director and a longtime gang outreach worker.

"I am writing to inform you that the Mayor's Office of Youth Violence Prevention on behalf of the City of Portland demands the return of $20,934.68 in funds that have not been spent in accordance with the above-mentioned grant agreement," writes Van Dyke in the letter.

Dickens, who spoke to The Skanner News before receiving the letter, said she did not want to be quoted directly about the dissolution of the contract. She said the nonprofit would continue its gang outreach work, paid or unpaid. She said the city wanted too much documentation on how the grant was spent.

The entire 2011-12 budget for the Office of Youth Violence Prevention was $592,272. Brothers and Sisters Keepers were budgeted to receive $96,813, for outreach workers, phones and administration costs. The city asked BSK to deliver its financial records, March 1 and again March 15.

A budget reconciliation document from the city shows that Brothers and Sisters Keepers reported spending more on cell phones and personnel than it could document. The nonprofit's documented expenses were $75,878.

The city currently funds 10 gang outreach workers through five different agencies. Three outreach workers formerly employed by BSK under the city's program have been transferred to Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center.

"The City and BSK recently agreed to mutually terminate a grant agreement to fund three street level gang outreach worker positions," says Antoinette Edwards, director of the Portland's Office of Youth Violence Prevention.

"These very important three gang outreach workers have been placed within the portfolio of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC), another City grantee that already oversees other gang outreach workers. We're very pleased that POIC can provide a seamless transition for these workers."

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